4/10/18: Pakse Motorcycle Loop: Day 1

I went for a run in the morning: I decided to do a fartlek run, totaling 4.5 miles. At the end of it, I ran past a bunch of animals in cages. Pigs, goats, ducks, chickens. They were all crying and clearly were very miserable– it really made me upset.

Kevin and I got breakfast at Daolin. I had fruit salad and a baguette.

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Today we would be starting the Pakse motorcycle loop (the smaller one), which takes you through the Bolaven Plateau and involves a lot of farmland, waterfalls, and tiny villages.

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Courtesy of gobackpackgo.com

We got our bikes from Miss Noy. It was my first time trying to ride a motorbike and I was SO NERVOUS. I had been avoiding this moment for days.

First Ms. Noy briefed us on the loop, giving us a map with notes and circles around different places to stop.

Next a French employee took me down a small street and taught me the basics of how to operate a semi-automatic: how to start the car, shift gears, break, etc. He then left me alone to practice riding up and down the street. He wanted me to do it at least four or five times until I felt comfortable on the bike.

I got on and felt ok because I had practiced a little with Mike in Kampot. However, I still felt really uncomfortable making the 180 degree turns– it was hard for me to control moving the bike forward while making a sharp turn, but at the same time not going so fast that I lost control.

Eventually, after going around the block four times, I felt ok. We officially started the loop around 10:30. We first had to get past the city and onto the main highway, which would take us around the loop.

The first 10 km were fine, but then the roads got really bad— it was all gravel, some of which were loose, and there lots of potholes. There were points where I couldnt’ see much ahead of me because of all the dust and sand getting kicked up by trucks. The lanes were also confusing because the shape/width of the road kept changing, so I was never quite certain where the lanes divided.

We were riding for about an hour before we realized we had missed a turn. We U-turned, 20 km up from the turn, and went back to the missed intersection.

Eventually we got to our first stop, a waterfall called Tad Pasuam, around 12:30. We went down, took a couple pics, had a snack of bananas and cassava chips, and got going again. We were starving for lunch.

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Tad Pasuam
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Cool bridge!

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We rode to Mr. Vieng Coffee, thinking there would be food, but soon realized it was just coffee so we left.

We rode to a tiny village and spotted a sign for a restaurant.

We parked our bikes and went down— the restaurant was by the river down a hill. It was completely empty except for the group of Lao boys blasting music at the side of the restaurant.

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Jackfruit tree!

The restaurant was HUGE, too— it wasn’t just one room. It had a big dining room, then rooms facing the water, and more little bungalow-esque spaces, too.

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So empty

We asked the lady working for the menu, and she told us that they had “fried rice or noodle soup.”

Two options! It was a bit nice to not have a huge selection for once. Usually the menus in SE Asia are books.

I went with fried rice.

We waited about 30 minutes for the food, and it was actually quite good. I was pleased. The potatoes weren’t soft, but they were diced so small that it actually tasted good a bit crispy.

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We rode on and got to Tad Lo, our final stop of the day, around 3 pm.

We parked our bikes by Fandee, a guest house. It was on a slight downhill, and as I was parking, gravity took over and my bike fell on its side– me along with it. It was slightly embarrassing, and Kevin had to help me pick the bike back up.

We went inside the guest house, but it was full so the owner told us to try the guest house behind it.

The next place had vacancy, and we got a private room for 30,000 kip, which is a little more than $3. So cheap!

We got changed into our bathing suits and went to the waterfall just down the road.

It was so cool! There were so many little pools and kids playing everywhere. The rocks were really slippery, though—at one point I fell on my butt, and this Lao couple was just sitting there, witnessing the whole thing as I wobbled and tried to catch myself, but there was no hope. I ultimately landed right on my butt.

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Tadlo

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We waded in the pool for a while, just chatting and joking around.

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Kevin trying not to fall…lol
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Our wading area

We saw people a few feet away looking at something, so we decided to see what was going on.

It turned out there were two elephants bathing in the water. It was really amazing to see them so close, just chilling and doing their own thing.

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Bathing!
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Exiting!

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Once they were out of the water, one girl was trying to feed them, which I found pretty dangerous.

Once the sun was too low and it got a bit cooler, we got out to shower and freshen up.

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Random horse by the “school library” 

We walked around town for a bit and found a temple by the river. A group of boys were playing a sort of Asian hacky sack game that is popular all around SE Asia.

We watched them play until it got dark and they left to go home.

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Sunset by the water
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Hacky sack/volleyball game they play here

I really like this town. It’s really small and local yet has nice amenities for tourists, like English menus and running water.

We went to get dinner at the guest house we originally tried to stay at, Fandee. The French owner really had no handle on what was going on– I couldn’t tell if he was high, drunk, both, or just not with it.

We ordered our food (vegetarian green curry and a beer for me, chicken massaman curry and a beer for Kevin).

Five minutes later, he came back asking for our orders again. We repeated: Vegetarian green curry and a beer for me, chicken massaman curry and a beer for Kevin.

We waited 20 minutes for our beer. We both were looking over at him to see if he was busy or had just forgotten about our beers. He saw us looking, and came over and asked us if we had asked for a beer.

We told him yes, and he apologized and brought us over the beer.

When our food arrived a few minutes later, mine was correct— vegetarian green curry— but Kevin’s didn’t have any chicken.

Despite all the mistakes, the food was pretty good so all is forgiven.

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After we finished our food, we tried to stream a movie but the WiFi wasn’t good enough so we just chatted for a while and then went to bed.

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